Illustrator and cartoonist Richard Thompson, creator of the comic strip Cul De Sac, passed away July 27 from complications of Parkinson’s disease.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009 and retired his strip in 2012.
Michael Cavna, who writes the Comic Riffs blog for the Washington Post, today commemorated Thompson’s career.
Within “Cul de Sac,” Thompson created a wry and whimsical suburban world partly inspired by his own upbringing in Maryland’s Montgomery County, just outside Washington. His pen-and-ink neighborhood featured outgoing 4-year-old Alice Otterloop (her surname a bit of wordplay on the Beltway’s “Outer Loop”), introverted 8-year-old brother Petey, her friends Beni and Dill and classmates at Blisshaven Academy preschool, and the Otterloop parents, who always seemed one step behind their children’s wild imaginations and antics….
In 2012, Cavna interviewed Thompson about ending his strip:
MICHAEL CAVNA: How did you come to this decision now, Richard? Was there a moment that this choice became clear, or has this been a long and gradual decision — perhaps one that had a tipping point?
RICHARD THOMPSON: I’ve known for a year or more that I was working on borrowed time. My lettering had begun to wander off in 2009, but that could be fixed easily enough. But when Alice’s and Dill’s heads began to look under-inflated last winter, I figured I was losing control of the drawing, too. When I needed help with the inking (the hardest but most satisfying part of drawing the strip),well that was probably a tipping point. Parkinson’s disease is horribly selfish and demanding. A daily comic strip is too and I can only deal with one at a time. So it was a long, gradual, sudden decision.
Thompson came out of fanzine fandom. Many of his cartoons appeared in the 1980s and 1990s in such fanzines as Stephen Brown and Dan Steffan’s Science Fiction Eye, Ted White and Dan Steffan’s Blat! and the Disclave program book.
[Thanks to Arnie Fenner and Simon Bisson for the story.]